I hear this one a lot: I need more traffic. Okay we all need traffic. Lots of it. But if clients aren’t signing up, what you think is the problem (not enough traffic) probably isn’t the problem.
Here’s the truth: traffic’s easy to get. You can buy as much as you need at “the traffic store” (Google, Facebook, et al). Maybe you’ve already experimented with advertising and paid traffic, but you didn’t get the results you’d hoped for?
Before you drive more traffic — paid or otherwise — you have to know the answer to this one simple question:
“And then what?”
Where are you sending that traffic? What are you expecting that traffic to do?
If it’s to land on your home page, fall in love with you, and pick up the phone and call — that’s like asking somebody to marry you on the first date, it just doesn’t work like a magic bullet like that.
Before you spend more time and money driving traffic, make sure your website is prepared to be your hardest-working employee whose job it is to book clients.
Low Hanging Fruit
There are a few things that cause users to bounce away from your site before you even get the chance to convince them how awesome you are. If you have problems in any of these areas, you’ll want to tackle them first.
Does your website load quickly?
If it takes more than 3 seconds for your site to load, nearly half of your website visitors won’t make it past the landing page you sent them to. And for every extra second, that number only increases.
Does your design make a good first impression?
If you’re one of those people who thinks design doesn’t matter — it’s your smarts and the amazing value you give your customers that counts, right? Those things do count, but it takes some time for people to learn about and trust you, to consider you credible and the best choice out of all their options.
In the meantime, it’s design’s job to make the right first impression. It has the power to elevate your brand or devalue you.
Research has shown that users prefer simple designs: which means it’s easy for them to navigate, find the information they need, and it’s clear to them what they’re supposed to do next. Make sure there isn’t a lot of unnecessary decorative fluffery getting in their way.
Does your message pass the “5-second test”?
If it isn’t immediately clear why your website will be useful and relevant to your site visitor, they’re not going to spend all day trying to figure that out.
Make sure it’s clear who you’re speaking to (know your audience), what you do, and why they should care within the first few seconds of landing on your site.
Once you have the basics covered and you’ve captured their attention enough to keep reading, again we must ask:
“And then what?”
What do you want them to do next?
Users need to be told exactly what the next step is.
Here’s the thing — if you’re asking for a big commitment (and this includes clicking on your “work with me” or “contact me” pages) when somebody first visits your site, it’s either going to be a “yes” or a “no.” But what about the, “Hmmmm… maybe!” peeps? What steps do you need to take to move them from maybe to yes?
The first step is to ask for something smaller so you can create a connection that’ll allow you to ask for something bigger later. One of the most effective strategies is to get your site visitor on to a mailing list so you can nurture the relationship over time. It can also be something like “join my Facebook group” or “follow me on Instagram”… but email is a property you own, social media is just rented land.
Nurturing cold traffic (they don’t know you yet) into warm (“hmmm, maybe!”) and then hot (ready to buy!) leads takes patience. We all want this to work like a magic bullet, but I’m sorry to say it just doesn’t.
Buying something right away from somebody we’ve never heard of before is just not how consumers behave and you already know that, because that’s not how you make purchasing decisions. (Impulse purchases happen — I have a drawer full of expensive lipstick I never wear to prove it — but it’s not common in the world of professional services.)
Marketers will tell you it takes anywhere from 7-13+ “touches” before a customer will buy. And back when I studied advertising in school, they pounded into our heads: “repetition, repetition, repetition” — and it’s the same with our site visitors. If you’re feeling frustrated that your site visitors aren’t becoming customers, it could be that you haven’t given them enough opportunity to get to know you.
Instead of asking, “How can I get more traffic?”, first ask, “What steps can I take that will guide this visitor toward a buying decision?”
When you hear people talking about the “sales funnel” this is all that is. Those ‘steps’ are things like writing a blog that provides answers to your customer’s questions, landing pages, ad retargeting, and email marketing.
If your website is not optimized to capture opportunities to nurture relationships, you’re going to need more and more and more traffic to find that needle-in-the-haystack client who is ready to buy on their first visit.
Steady wins the race!